Approaching a stop sign in Brownstown, Drivers Ed LLC instructor Bob Millman calmly told the teenage girl behind the wheel to come to a nice, smooth stop.
“There you go,” Millman said. “Stop dead. Look to the left and right. One, two, three, go. All right.”
Once they passed town limits on State Road 135, Millman told the girl she could accelerate up to 55 mph. As they came upon a curve, he advised her to apply the brakes a little.
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“See how the car clings to the road real nice and speed back up,” he said as they went through the curve.
Down the road, he had the girl turn left into a driveway, and he guided her as she learned how to back the car up.
Then back in town, Millman had the girl pull up to a curb in front of a house.
“Easy does it,” he said.
They then made their way to Seymour to end the driving lesson for the day.
For 50 years, Millman, 76, has taught thousands of Jackson County high school students how to drive. All along, his calm demeanor has helped those young drivers feel comfortable on the road.
“You can’t teach anybody to be professional in six hours,” Millman said, referring to the required amount of time behind the wheel. “You just teach them to have enough confidence in themselves to try and do better with their parents and those that ride with them.”
Millman is in his 12th year as an instructor for Drivers Ed LLC, which recently moved its office from North Vernon to Brownstown. One of its owners, Rock Hurley, said Millman has been a big asset to the company.
“Bob is absolutely as good as gold. He’s a Christian man, and it shows in everything he does,” Hurley said.
“He just brings a world of experience,” Hurley said. “To be a driver’s ed instructor, you’ve got to be somewhat calm. Bob is able to help the students relax and reduce that nervousness. When students get nervous, they have a tendency to make mistakes. They are going to make mistakes, but they are legitimately trying to do the right thing.”
Millman, a North Judson native, graduated from high school in 1957 before heading to Indiana State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a certification to teach driver’s education.
“I wanted to help people, and we want to have good, safe drivers on the road at all times,” he said of why he chose to teach driver’s education.
A couple of years later, he received his master’s degree, allowing him to be a guidance counselor and an administrator.
He taught at a small school in Illinois for two years before meeting his wife, Judy, and moving to her hometown, Brownstown, in the early 1960s.
Millman worked for schools at Haleysburg, Clearspring, Medora, Crothersville, Marengo and West Washington in a variety of capacities, including teacher, principal, assistant principal and counselor.
Of his 41 years in education, he spent 28 of them at Medora. During his tenure, he was an administrator, a counselor and a social studies and driver’s education teacher.
He also sponsored several senior classes, which allowed him to go on 16 senior trips. Early on, the principal needed someone to drive the bus for the senior trip, so Millman received his bus driver’s license.
“I took kids on the senior trip to the Smoky Mountains,” he said. “I drove a school bus up to Lookout Mountain. I drove it all through the Smokies.”
While he was still working at Medora, Millman taught for Sears Driving School for three years and did painting jobs to earn some extra money, which he needed to help raise his five children.
In May 2002, he retired from Medora. Not long after, he learned about Hurley’s new business venture and was hired as an instructor.
“You just can’t sit around and do nothing when you retire. You’ve got to do something,” he said. “I do things for church and other places, too. But doing this gives me extra money that I can go places with my wife and do things with my family.”
Since working for Drivers Ed LLC, Millman has taught students from six Jackson County schools. He stays busy teaching year-round.
“What I like about it is it’s so flexible,” he said. “My wife is really great at helping me get the schedules, and the Hurleys give me the people, and I arrange it by appointment. I like that.”
During his 50 years of teaching driver’s education, Millman said there have been several changes, including the required number of driving hours and the age you have to be to get your license. Also, there are now three times more cars on the road, he said.
When students are learning to drive, Millman has them drive on town streets, country roads, highways and interstates and in parking lots. They also learn how to parallel park and handle hills and curves.
“One of the greatest joys I have is after a kid parallel parks,” he said. “For some reason, they are afraid of parallel parking. When they do it for the first time, you should see the smile on their face. Oh, it’s really worth it. They think, ‘Oh, I thought this was going to be like pulling teeth out of lions,’ and it’s not. It’s real easy, and they liked it.”
From first teaching driver’s education at Clearspring to now working for Drivers Ed LLC, Millman has helped three generations of some families earn their license.
“They trust me. That’s what I like about it, and I appreciate it,” he said. “I appreciate all of the people that let me drive their kids.”
Millman said being able to teach people a life skill means a lot.
“It’s something that helps people, and you’re supposed to help people on this earth until you die if you can in some shape, way or form,” he said. “That’s one of my ways of getting to do it. I think it’s a calling, I really do. And it’s really fun.”
When he’s not working for Drivers Ed LLC, Millman drives a bus for Brownstown Central Community School Corp., mainly spending his time taking teams to sporting events.
“I keep busy and have fun doing that, and you meet a lot of nice people,” he said.
Millman said he plans on teaching driver’s education and driving a school bus as long as he is able. He has to take a physical every year for bus driving and every two years for teaching driver’s education.
“As long as I can stay qualified mentally and physically, I would be glad to do it,” he said.
But he’s not so sure about doing it 50 more years.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said, smiling. “But I wouldn’t mind doing it two or three more, and then I think I’ll probably have to hang it up. It has been a lot of fun. It has been a good run.”
Name: Bob Millman
Hometown: North Judson
Education: North Judson High School (1957); Indiana State University (1961, bachelor’s degree); Indiana University (1963, master’s degree)
Occupation: Retired in 2002 after 41 years in education; Spent the past 12 years working for Drivers Ed LLC; Also drives a school bus for Brownstown Central Community School Corp.
Family: Wife, Judy Millman; children, Rob Millman, Margie Millman, Melanie Goulee, Mark Millman and Mary Ahlbrand; grandchildren, Lyndsie Millman, Kenny Millman, Josh Millman, Matthew McCullough, Sam McCullough and Ian McCullough; great-grandchild, Ellie Maynard